The risk of going social for business
Many experts advise that businesses should open company social media accounts to its employees, while others advise against it. Proponents tout the advantages of relationship and trust building with customers and positive interactions with your market.
Opponents, on the other hand, may cite events like the recent Twitter debacle where Chrysler Motors posted this beauty of a tweet: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive”. The original message was NSFW, and while many chuckles ensued, imagine the horror and frantic scrambling for the phones when Chrysler execs saw this doozie!
It came to light that an employee of the company that handles the automakers social media campaigns was responsible for the slip-up, most likely tweeting to the Chrysler account instead of a personal one by mistake. The company deleted the errant tweet, and issued an apology to Chrysler’s followers, for which I’m sure most understanding people will soon forgive and forget, but it does go to show how a company’s reputation can be affected by social blunders, even with the best of intentions.
Employees as ambassadors for your brand
Despite the occasional folly, I’m still inclined to recommend opening the lines of communication for employees of your company through social media. For one, your employees are already on Twitter and Facebook throughout the work day anyway. Yes, they are. So you need to consider: do you set allowable workplace distractions, or let your employees choose their own? I’ll advise to let there be no shame in it, so long as it doesn’t interrupt productivity (hint: with a written social media policy in place, it may even increase productivity).
Second, employees are more likely to become passionate about the services they provide, given that they essentially become public figures with a level of expertise and implied authority that customers will look up to. So why not train employees to represent your brand effectively, and give managers and/or employees the crown of being ambassadors for your business through social media marketing.
Establishing the ground rules in written format will let every manager and employee involved know what is acceptable and what isn’t. Most importantly it will convey to everyone exactly what the goal is regarding the company’s social presence online. Are you going social for reputation management? To provide customer support? To show transparency in your company? To increase your marketing reach? Maybe a combination of these ideas? When all parties know what it is they are striving for, you will see your social media effectiveness – and your bottom line – skyrocket.
Also, let only those who have the desire take on these additional responsibilities, as these people will best represent your brand.
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It’s important to note here that taking on a social media role in the company should be completely voluntary!
Establishing Social Media policy in the workplace
When establishing company social media policy it’s important to cover such aspects as divulging proprietary company information, revealing information of a personal or private nature, use of profanity, keeping a positive voice, time allowed on social sites vs. actual workplace activity, when and what personal social media activity is allowed, etc.
Also document what the consequences would be for an employee who violates the rules of the policy. Educate your employees on this document during the process of training them for their social media role, and have them sign a copy that goes into their personnel file.